Wireless chip-set maker Quantenna Communications this week announced a new reference design for a 4x4 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) 802.11n Wi-Fi bridge intended to be used for carriers' triple-play video services and high-definition television.
Although 4x4 MIMO implementations have not been seen yet in the marketplace (the typical enterprise 802.11n AP is either 2x3 or 3x3), the configuration is fully supported in the 802.11n standard. With a 4x4 MIMO implementation, the connection could be rated as high as 600MB of theoretical throughput.
The fast connection, combined with Quantenna's digital beamforming capabilities, promises to deliver 100M-bps throughput at a distance of 100 feet with a near-zero packet error. Beamforming is an optional component of the 802.11n specification that defines the ability to use multiple antennae to concentrate a signal toward a particular receiver, and Quantenna representatives say their beamforming is done in hardware and allows for packet by packet reoptimization of the antenna configuration.
Of course, with the extra transmitted streams comes extra power draw. Quantenna representatives thought the net power draw from their 4x4 implementation would be roughly twice that of a standard 3x3 implementation, although with the greater operational efficiency and speed promised by the technology, actual power consumed may be closer to 1.5X over a 3x3.
Of course, this is just a reference design (the QHS600, which includes a pair of wireless bridges that operate in the 5GHz band only) aimed at carriers looking for an IPTV wireless delivery system. Quantenna representatives alluded to conversations with some enterprise wireless companies that were moving quickly, but offered no specifics.
As such, neither consumers nor enterprise IT buyers should expect to see Quantenna's 4x4 design for sale any time soon. But if uptake from hardware manufacturers occurs sometime in the next year, we could hope to see a price drop on current 3x3 and 2x3 implementations down the road.
Quantenna will show the equipment in private demos during next month's CES show in Las Vegas.